Saturday, 17 July 2010

The sanctuary knocker, Durham Cathedral

The construction of Durham Cathedral  began in 1093 and was completed about 100 years later. It is considered to be the greatest Norman building in Britain and is a World heritage site.

In the Middle Ages criminals  seeking sanctuary within the cathedral  would bang the sanctuary knocker at the north door   to alert one of the watchmen. They would be admitted into the cathedral, and offered sanctuary for 37 days. They were obliged to confess the details of their crime t  and they had to change their clothes for a black robe with a yellow cross on the shoulder. By the end of the 37 days, during which time they would be looked after at the expense of the church, the criminal had to leave the country by an assigned port. Hartlepool was the port assigned to Durham. If they did not do this, or deviated from the King's highway en route, they were executed. The knocker shown is a replica, the original being in the museum on site.


  1. From the color of the handle, it seems like many people have knocked on this door! Beautiful shot :D